Friday, September 28, 2012

Signal Mountain Mirror slander

Dear Signal Mountain friends, 

The Signal Mountain Mirror today is continuing a personal and fraudulent assault on the many good citizens who were part of the MACC Foundation, formerly Friends of MACC. I once considered Andrew Clark a friend and I frankly don't know why he has decided to use the Mirror to attack this organization by printing false information that we have repeatedly refuted to him. He will not respond to my emails requesting explanations and corrections to the falsehoods he has printed over the last few months about the former MACC Foundation. 

The Fall Hodgepodge festival was given to the MACC Foundation by its founder to raise money for the MACC. The Foundation changed it's name last January (to the Signal Mountain Art Foundation) at the town's request and attempted to broaden it's outreach to support other arts organizations in the community such as the Signal Mountain Playhouse, Bachman, public schools, etc. This was due to the financial success we had achieved over the previous 1 1/2 years when we had donated nearly $50,000 to the MACC. We had planned to continue to sponsor Fall Hodgepodge, as we did for the last four years, as a fundraiser for the MACC. Over that period of time we had grown the event, added music and children's events and increased attendance and financial success each year. Instead, the town seized control of the festival and hired an outside professional event planner. The Foundation decided not to fight this seizure and to gift the ev
ent, which the Foundation owned, to the town rather than engage in a legal battle over ownership. The Foundation Board of Directors subsequently decided to dissolve primarily because of the ill will generated by these events. Whereas previously, the MACC had received 100% of proceeds from Hodgepodge after expenses, it will now receive 55%. 

The article in the mirror today refers to the Foundation as a "splinter group" which is not true because we never "splintered" off of anything. The article in the Mirror today claims the town "salvaged" the event which is a gross misrepresentation of the facts since the festival was never at risk. The Mirror claims the Foundation planned to stage the event "independently" of the town which ignores the fact that the event was always "independent" of the town, sponsored by a private organization to benefit the MACC. It was never owned or operated by the town. The Foundation payed rent to the town (now being waived for the organizer hired by the town) for the facilities. The town is also now providing insurance for the event, which it never did for the foundation. The town charged the foundation for providing security. This is a scurrilous and slanderous article and I feel forced to get the truth out and to defend the integrity of the many fine people who volunteered their time and money over the years to support the MACC through the MACC Foundation.

I do want to be very clear that, while I am disappointed about the turn of events, my main goal is to present the facts and to protect the reputation of the organization that I briefly led. I wish no ill-will to the MACC or the Hodgepodge event. I have no ill feelings toward the Chattanooga Market or Paul Smith who leads that organization nor do I assign any blame or responsibility to them for the turn of events. Everything I have seen and heard about Paul and the Chattanooga market has indicated they are a top-notch organization of great integrity. They were asked to do a job that they are successful at and I think that they were a great choice. I know that his organization will do an excellent job with Hodgepodge. I feel we had inherited a great event and made it better and expect that the Chattanooga Market will continue that tradition.